The 2001 World Series will always rank among the most exciting in history. Not only did the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees play the full seven games and go down to the final batter before deciding things, it all took place when the country needed something to cheer less than two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Not nearly as much is on the line this week when Arizona and New York meet for three games in the Bronx, a series we'll track in its entirety with free picks. Still, there's plenty on the line for both teams with the Diamondbacks off to an 8-4 start and just a half-game back of the Giants in the NL West race, while the Yankees are second in the American League East, 1.5 behind the Red Sox.
Thursday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Brooms are on ready in the Bronx where the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks wrap up their 3-game series Thursday night.
Arizona let a great chance to even the set slip away Wednesday, and now turns to another young arm in the arsenal to avoid being swept. Patrick Corbin will be the first line of defense for Kirk Gibson and the D-Backs while Joe Girardi sends Phil Hughes to the Big Apple bump.
The contest is scheduled to begin a bit past 7 PM (ET) and MLB odds list the Yankees as favorites in the low -120s. The total started at 9 runs before settling in at 8.5 by Thursday morning.
A couple of walks to the bottom two hitters in New York's lineup, the second one with the bases juiced, proved fatal to the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Wade Miley entered the bottom of the seventh with a 3-zip lead and retired two of the first three batters before getting into trouble. The Yankees would go on to knot the score before Travis Hafner's pinch blast in the eighth provided the winner for New York's 4-3 triumph.
Corbin will be making his first interleague start, and it just so happens to come against the team he grew up rooting for as a kid in New York. The southpaw enters the match with two wins in as many assignments this season, beating the Brewers in Milwaukee and Dodgers at home last Friday. His short career includes an ERA more than three runs higher on the road than at Chase Field.
Hughes is still looking for his first 'dubya' of 2013, dropping a game to the Tigers in Detroit and another at home to the Orioles last Saturday. The righthander served up three gopher balls to the Baltimore lineup, and the Yankees are 4-1 in his last five interleague starts despite Hughes' 5.21 ERA in those outings.
Ron Kulpa has the plate for the series finale and all three of his previous contests behind the dish this season failed to reach the total. That includes a couple of National League affairs with low scoreboard figures (6.5, 7).
Rain shouldn't interrupt the contest, though it will be cloudy and humid this evening with temps in the mid-50s. The current forecast calls for a SE wind (10-12 mph, in from RF corner).
The last five Yankee games never reached the total, but I've got zero confidence in Hughes right now. I'll go against that streak and add a play on the OVER to my free picks this evening. Don't forget to check back this weekend as I continue to follow the Yanks who begin a 6-game road trip at Toronto.
My MLB Pick: Diamondbacks-Yankees Over 8.5 (-115)
Wednesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Our OVER was looking good Tuesday night when the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees combined for five runs in the first four innings. Alas, it wasn't meant to be as the two bullpens quieted both attacks with just one more plate crossing on the evening.
Arizona and New York get right back to it Wednesday at Yankee Stadium where a couple of lefthanders will be out to quiet the lineups from the very start of the contest. The Yanks will have their big ace on the mound for the 7 PM (ET) tilt, and the MLB odds show the home team -155 chalk behind CC Sabathia.
Wade Miley will oppose Sabathia and the total can be found at both 7.5 and 8.
New York prevailed 4-2 in Tuesday's opener; Robinson Cano's 3-run blast in the fourth off Brandon McCarthy provided the decisive runs as the Yankees won for the sixth time in the past seven games to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The setback was Arizona's fourth loss in seven games, dropping the Snakes to third in the NL West, 1.5 games south of the front-running Rockies.
Miley has won both of his starts after going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA in 2012. The Cajun port-sider was especially effective in his interleague outings last year, winning two of the three -- the loss a 1-0 game at Texas -- and posting a very tiny 0.83 ERA.
Sabathia experienced his usual Opening Day jitters, but has since settled down with two strong assignments. Crooked Cap blanked a tough Tigers lineup for seven innings of a 7-0 win at Detroit, then followed up with eight frames and nine strikeouts to beat the O's 5-2 last Friday.
Weather isn't supposed to be an issue tonight in the Bronx where the skies are expected to be clear and the thermometer at 60ºF come first pitch. Phil Cuzzi will determine if that pitch is a strike or ball, and is 1-2 O/U so far this season, all three games in fairly pitcher-friendly NL parks. The last time the Newark native called the plate at Yankee Stadium, the final score jumped the total in a contest won by the visiting Twins.
My picks have soured in the past week with a 3-8 record in that span, so you might want to file this one away as a fade. The UNDER is the way I'll go in Game 2 of this series. As long as you're here at SBR Forum, you might as well check out what's going on in the Phillies-Reds series that wraps up tonight in Cincinnati.
My MLB Pick: Diamondbacks-Yankees Under 7.5 (-105) at 5Dimes
Tuesday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
It all gets underway Tuesday night with a matchup of righthanders who are looking for their first wins of 2013, each sporting bloated ERA's that are within an eyelash of being identical. Brandon McCarthy is on tap for Kirk Gibson's Snakes in the opener; Joe Girardi sends Ivan Nova to the mound for the Pinstripes.
The MLB odds makers a Bookmaker sent the Bronx Bombers out as -140 chalk in Game 1, the 9 run total listed at -120 on the UNDER.
D-Backs Begin 9-Game Road Trip Following 3-3 Homestand
Arizona bounced back after dropping the first two games on the recent homestand to the Pirates, and reaches New York having won three of the last four. The D-Backs blanked the Dodgers twice over the weekend to take that set, and look to keep a perfect road record going following a broom job in Milwaukee a little more than a week ago.
Gibson's gang has six key division games at Colorado and San Francisco later on this road trip, but it's doubtful the team is looking ahead with this being the first trip to Yankee Stadium II for many of the players on the current 25-man roster. Arizona reached its day off on Monday eighth in the majors scoring 5.33 runs per game and tied for eighth allowing 3.92 each contest.
McCarthy does have experience on this mound and against New York going back to his days with the Rangers and A's. The lanky hurler has made three starts vs. the Yankees, all in New York and two at the new stadium which opened in '09. His teams won two of the games while McCarthy pitched to a 4.50 ERA in 20 frames.
Both of his prior starts this season came at home vs. the Cards and Pirates. McCarthy was not a mystery to either lineup allowing 19 hits (.365 BAA) and 12 runs (10 earned.)
Yanks Take 2 Of 3 from O's To Begin Homestand
New York grabbed a series win vs. Baltimore over the weekend to start the 6-game homestand. The Yankees might have a little look-ahead the next few days with a roadie to Toronto and Tampa Bay once this set ends.
The best news for Girardi's troops so far is the lineup is pushing runs across the plate despite the absence of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. New York was third in the bigs through Sunday averaging 5.45 RPG, a number that came down during the series against the Orioles when the Yankees plated just 11 over three games.
Nova's turn in the rotation came up during the rainouts last week in Cleveland, so he is making just his second 2013 start. He wasn't able to make it through five innings at Detroit in the other, leaving the mound with four runs charged to his linescore following a spring in which he recorded a 4.19 ERA in five tune-ups. New York managed to win 17 of Nova's 28 regular season starts last year despite his 5.02 ERA; Tuesday is his career cherry vs. Arizona.
This is only the fifth regular season series between the two clubs, the last in 2010 when the Yankees dubya'd in two of three at Chase Field. The Yanks have a 9-3 record in regular season battles, 5-1 in New York after sweeping the set in 2007, the last time the D-Backs visited.
Weather reports 24 hours in advance of the game call for a 50% chance of rain in the early evening hours, and a decent SW wind blowing out to left-center. Bettors will want to confirm that before heading to the window.
Neither starter leaves me warm and fuzzy, but neither offense has been tearing it up the past few days and both bullpens are rested, New York relievers having had two days off. The best option for our MLB picks might be to add the OVER 4.5 or 5 once that line is released, and I'm going to play the high side of the total for the game as well.
My MLB Pick: Diamondbacks-Yankees Over 9 (+100)